Arlington, VA

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

If you’ve dined in D.C. at Jose Andres’ minibar, Johnny Spero’s Reverie, or Robert Wiedmaier’s Marcel’s, chances are you sampled produce grown in Arlington.

It’s no secret that interest in urban farming has skyrocketed in recent years, however Arlington-based Fresh Impact remains the county’s only commercial urban farm.

Tucked in an unassuming strip mall on Lee Highway, with no signage or disclosed address, Fresh Impact is under the radar of most Arlingtonians, but well-known among local chefs, particularly higher-end chefs.

Founded in 2017, the company has grown over 300 different rare herbs, varieties of greens, and edible flowers based on the needs of the local restaurant industry.

“One of the primary reasons we located in Arlington was to be as close to D.C., and our customer base, as possible,” said founder Ryan Pierce.

“Being able to grow indoors, not only is it sustainable but our produce is free from pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides,” Pierce said.

At any given time, employees at Fresh Impact are maintaining between 30 to 40 varieties of produce depending on the season. Despite this, the farm still has room to grow and add more products.

“We’re hoping to sell out completely by the end of 2020, we want to get to where we simply can’t grow anymore,” Pierce said. “When that happens, then we’ll look at opportunities to expand our operations to other facilities and look to provide more local products to other restaurants.”

The company has grown primarily via word of mouth, through recommendations from chefs to other chefs. Everything is harvested and delivered to the restaurants on the same day to maintain maximum freshness.

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

When serial entrepreneur Alecia Vimala couldn’t find a way to directly purchase a product from a social media feed without being redirected to another website, she decided to build a way to do so herself.

Peercrate operates as a social commerce platform in which users create either a public or private profile, post social photos and tag the items they’re wearing or using. When other users see a post, they can easily learn the details of the tagged items, such as the brand and the price, and add it to their cart within the app.

“It’s like Snapchat meets Amazon,” said Vimala, who moved to Arlington from Nashville, Tennessee this month to be closer with other like-minded startups.

Within the next two to three months, Vimala says, they expect to run the app through a round of private beta testing, during which they will onboard a few hundred people per week. Anyone who is interested can sign up for a waitlist, and they’ll be emailed a link where they can download the product.

For users who don’t want to use the app as a social media platform but still want to shop, they can scroll through public profiles for inspiration.

“For instance, if someone wants to find a pair of sunglasses, they can search for it and everyone with a public profile who has posted a pair of sunglasses will pop up,” said Vimala.

Previously, Vimala founded a similar platform, ALECIA, which allows users to shop for clothes they see while seeing television and movies.

Once public, Peercrate will be available for iOS and Android.

Photo (top) via Twitter

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Most people use facial recognition technology, a fingerprint reader, or a four-digit password to unlock their phones. Some go even further with two-step authentication. And as we continue to integrate crucial information into our phones such as account passwords and bank cards, SensiPass CEO Mike Hill realized people should use a three-step verification password for maximum security — and his startup was born.

SensiPass works as an interactive password that utilizes user-specific biometric imagery for maximum protection.

In order to unlock a phone, SensiPass scans a QR code or a number pattern, analyzes a unique physical object (i.e. a face), and finally, the user draws a distinct pattern over the object to create their 3-factor “digital signature.”

A demonstration can be seen in the video below.

It sounds complicated, but Hill told ARLnow that it takes up to six seconds, maximum, and provides top-notch security.

“It’s virtually impossible to fake or share with others, and this is for everyday people,” Hill said. “With Snapchat, you draw on your selfie as a means of social expression. On SensiPass, you would use your face as a three-factor authentication.”

“When we first started on the product, we realized the consumer wouldn’t be ready for it because it was just so different from the password they were used to,” Hill said. “But it’s far more secure than anything out there.”

Once finalized, the patented product is expected to be be available for both iPhone and Android users.

In 2014, after failing to secure initial funding in the states, SensiPass headquartered itself in Ireland. Recently, the team opened a subsidiary office in Clarendon in order to be closer to partners working in cybersecurity and counterterrorism.

Here in Arlington, Hill said they’re looking to work with more investors in the area before launching the official product.

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

DivvyCloud, an Arlington startup specializing in cloud-based cybersecurity, is planning to more than double in size with a move into a new much larger new headquarters in Courthouse.

It’s is far from the only cybersecurity company working in Arlington, but DivvyCloud carved out a niche as a cloud-focused security option that not only fixes gaps in security coverage but makes it easier for a company to see where its security is weakest.

Today (Monday) the company moved into a new 13,000 square foot office at 2111 Wilson Blvd, an office over six-times larger than its old 2,000 square foot office in Rosslyn. In a press release, CEO and co-founder Brian Johnson said the office expansion is a result of adding new employees, with more expected down the road.

“[Since 2018] the company has grown from 20 to 55 local employees — an increase of 175 percent — and plans to reach at least 120 employees within the next year,” Johnson said.

The company has netted some sizable investments over the last year, along with new contracts with customers from Pizza Hut to Fannie Mae. In an email to ARLnow, Johnson said the expansion is justified by an increasing need in cloud-based coverage — particularly in light of recent major data breaches.

“In our recent report, we found that 77% percent of respondents reported having two or more clouds, yet less than half of respondents were able to accurately identify the risk of misconfiguration in public cloud as higher than the risk in traditional IT environments,” Johnson said. “Countless major data breaches, including Honda and Capital One, have been caused by misconfigurations just in 2019 alone. As a result, more and more companies are realizing the need for an effective solution to prevent misconfigurations and properly secure cloud and container infrastructure.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Fresh off a win at the Small Biz Challenge, Arlington startup Boolean Girl is now headed is to Nationwide’s “Pitch to Win” contest as a finalist.

The company sells classroom kits aimed at getting young women interested in coding as part of an effort to combat the gender disparity in the tech industry.

The Pitch to Win competition is scheduled for Oct. 3 and includes an all-expenses-paid trip to the insurance company’s headquarters in Ohio, where the groups will present their business proposals to a panel of judges. The winning business will be awarded $100,000, with the runner up receiving $20,000 and third place earning $10,000.

Co-founder Ingrid Sanden said the winnings from Pitch to Win would help the company expand into middle-school-age sets.

“Winning the Pitch To Win competition would propel Boolean Girl Tech’s efforts to keep middle school girls engaged and excited about moving from basic coding to complex, real-world projects,” said Sanden. “Typically, there is a dramatic drop off in participation in STEM and computer science classes in middle school, so bridging the gap from elementary to high school and beyond is a crucial step as we close the gender gap in STEM careers.”

Boolean Girl will be competing with six other companies from across the country, from a skateboard grip tape business to a company that makes AI-enabled digital stethoscopes.

Boolean Girl launched in 2014 around the same time Google’s lack of diversity was making headlines. Since then, the company has developed a build-it-yourself box set for $169.99 and a kit that including ten boxes, ten monitors and a variety of accessories for $5,000. The company also offers a coding summer camp in Arlington.

Photo courtesy Boolean Girl

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) What do you get when you take a patent lawyer with a background in mechanical engineering and you add a passion for cycling?

It turns out you get AirLock, the world’s first all-in-one bike pump and lock brainstormed by Arlington local Joe Edell.

Together with his sister, Joe founded the startup Edellocks in March with the goal of eliminating the hassle of carrying a separate air pump along with a bike lock.

“It’s a patented idea I came up with in 2015, and we’re confident that our current version is that best we’re gonna get,” said Edell, who manufactured the design utilizing 3D-printing technology.

It took Edell 20-plus prototypes to get the design right, resulting in an ultra-lightweight product that weighs a little over a pound. The final product will be manufactured in Taiwan, while Edell and his sister will work on marketing, packaging, and shipping from a home in Pentagon City.

Customers have the option of selecting an AirLock with either of the common Schrader or Presta air valves.

It took a bit of trial and error to find the right customer base for the AirLock, because uber-passionate cyclists often have high-end bikes that require specialty pump valves. However, Edell hopes the product will end up in stores like REI and local bike shops.

“A lot of people who would be interested in this we would call ‘casual cyclists,’ so we need to work hard to make sure the price and the product is right,” said Edell.

Currently, the product is in its Kickstarter stage, with less than two weeks to go. As of today (Friday), AirLock has earned $7,791 with a goal of $20,000.

Those interested can either pledge any minimum to support the startup, or $58 or more, which gets you the finished product.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Excella, a Courthouse-based technology firm, has been selected as the lead partner in an effort to put together an app to detect alcohol misuse and risk of relapse.

The app, called Beacon, is designed to help medical professionals assess whether a patient is suffering from alcohol use disorder through a “combination of behavioral economics and advanced technology,” according to a press release. The product is still in development, but the goal is to be more effective than traditional methods of detecting alcohol abuse.

The company will utilize the work of Virginia Tech software development students at its Extension Center in Blacksburg. The company will also partner with Roanoke-based BEAM Diagnostics, Inc. to develop the app.

“The nation’s substance use epidemic presents massive challenges to every facet of our society, and we are committed to helping BEAM make the world better through tech innovation,” said Margaret Archer, Excella’s Director of University Programs. “Beacon is exactly the type of solution that our mentor-and-student development teams love to build, and we are happy to be a part of the solution.”

This isn’t Excella’s first foray into apps for a public good: the company previously developed MySpot, which helps homeless youth find nearby shelters and assistance. The press release also notes that the company has worked with government agencies for years to combat opioid fraud and abuse.

Image via Excella/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

For both new arrivals to the United States dreaming of starting their own business and locals who need a place to work, Columbia Pike’s Enterprise Development Group (EDG) strives to give them solid footing.

The Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) works to help refugees and immigrants, and within that organization the EDG strives to help entrepreneurs launch their own businesses.

“Our business incubator is a program where EDG rents office space below market rate,” said Fikru Abebe, managing director of the EDG. “This program primarily offers new start-up business access to free internet, free training meeting rooms and free utility. Participants will eventually graduate and move out.”

The ECDC launched in 1983 and the EDG was incorporated as a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2001. Funding for the incubator comes from a variety of public and private sources, though Abebe said continuing to raise funds to manage the program has not been easy.

The incubator is based out of 901 S. Highland Street, just off Columbia Pike.

Successful graduates from the program include a few local healthcare professionals and attorneys, like the firm DC Metro Immigration Law, according to Abebe.

For those who aren’t successful and want to shut down their business concept, Abebe said the low cost and flexibility of their month-to-month lease can keep that from being a career-ruining collapse.

Members of the group also receive access to classes for creating business plans, handling taxes as a small business, and more.

There are currently 22 businesses in the incubator, ranging from lawyers, IT consultants, cleaning services and more. Abebe said the program is currently at around 85 percent capacity with four offices left.

A fact sheet for the program says it strives for low vacancy, but high turnover.

“A successful business incubator would have all space filled, but it would have a balanced rate of new clients, existing clients, and graduated clients,” the fact sheet notes.

Photo via EDG/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Arlington based-startup Boolean Girl won a contest held in New York City last week judged by Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec.

The Small Biz Challenge, hosted by The UPS Store and Inc. Magazine, tests startup founders like Boolean’s Ingrid Sanden on how quickly they can respond to a range of business-related challenges. As the grand winner, Sanden took home $12,000 and will receive some additional publicity in Inc.

Sanden’s company sells classroom kits that help get girls interested in coding, and she says the prize money will help launch a new add-on kit to teach girls about how to program sensors — like motion sensors. So far, she said the company has received good feedback: “kids are pretending that they’re spies and building all kinds of spy-catchers with their sensor kit.”

Last week’s contest required Sanden to win a game of five questions which she says was “nerve-wracking” but credited her experience as a violinist to helping be comfortable under pressure.

One question that helped her win required her to respond to a good tweet and a bad Yelp review as a business owner in less than 30 seconds. The other was the final question, which required her to make up a pitch in real time about a company and a product she hadn’t seen before — all while following a PowerPoint pitch deck she also had not seen before.

Sanden was given the task of pitching a doughnut company pitching a gluten-free doughnut.

“Then a heart-healthy slide came up,” she laughed. “And I thought, ‘Oh no’.”

She says she was able to sell the gluten-free dessert as a healthy choice.

Boolean won first place after being selected from 1,700 applicants in June to become one of 10 semifinalists headed to the Big Apple.

Sanden said she’s long seen contests like it shared on social media, and thought this one could be a good fit for her.

“This one was really easy to enter and I did it and kind of forgot about it until I was contacted about being in the top 10,” she said. “I’m in a couple more contests like this right now waiting to hear if I’m going to advance.”

“People who see these opportunities, just enter it,” Sanden added. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Boolean Girl is split into two separate entities: the company selling classroom kits as well as a non-profit that’s running summer camps and after-school classes — including in Arlington. Since launching in 2014, Sanden says she and her two co-founders have sold the kits in 30 countries and across the country.

Image 1 courtesy of The UPS Store, image 2 courtesy of Ingrid Sanden

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Most people using Amazon won’t browse past the first page of listings for any given search or category. That’s where newly-Arlington-based startup Amify comes in.

Amify doesn’t sell products. Rather, the company works with other brands to help them drive sales and maximize their revenue on Amazon.

“Much like a brand might outsource PR to a PR firm, brands can outsource their Amazon presence to Amify,” Amify CEO and founder Ethan McAfee said in an email. “We can usually do it a lot better and a lot cheaper than a brand can do it internally. A few brands we work with include Fender Guitars and Pacers Running.”

Now with Amazon setting up its new HQ2 in Arlington, Amify has uprooted from its Alexandria headquarters and relocated closer to the company it is intrinsically tied to.

McAfee said Crystal City has historically been viewed as a “boring concrete jungle filled with government agencies and contractors,” but that Amazon’s move will help to change that.

“We moved there to be ahead of the curve,” McAfee said. “In a few short years, the number of fun and modern restaurants and bars will increase and make National Landing” — the name for the combined Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods along the Blue and Yellow lines — “a much more attractive place to have an office.”

McAfee said the two Metro lines, airport, VRE and highway access also make Crystal City an attractive spot for Amify. It doesn’t hurt that McAfee said the largest pool of talent for people with Amazon knowledge will be centered around the new headquarters. Like a remora fish swimming alongside a shark, it’s a symbiotic relationship that can hopefully keep Amify well-fed on business in Amazon’s waters.

“Wherever Amazon goes, it’s going to generate some sort of regional brain trust or community that somehow relates to its business,” said McAfee. “We want to be a part of that brain trust. We want to be around smart people who work or who have worked for Amazon, and are passionate about selling online and advancing the experience of sellers on the platform. It’s an excellent environment to be in if you’re a business like ours.”

Things have been going well recently. McAfee said Amazon’s reported decision to retire a large number of its first-party seller relationships — ditching some small brands that sell their own products to Amazon via purchase order, in favor of third-party marketplace sellers that stock and sell goods via Amazon’s platform — has left some of those brands reeling and trying to reclaim their Amazon presence.

But like the remora fish, McAfee said sometimes Amify can very much be at the whims of the larger beast.

“Much like Walmart, Amazon is a very large retailer and can throw around its weight,” McAfee said. “It certainly makes sellers’ lives more difficult, but at the same time, no other platform is going to provide sellers with the same exposure or access to consumers as Amazon.”

“Given control of the largest online marketplace in the world, it’s conceivable one might tip the scales in their favor,” McAfee continued. “This is not to give Amazon a pass, it’s just to say that this is something we’ve anticipated and therefore can respond to in the context of how it impacts our customers.”

Despite that uncertainty, McAfee said relocating closer to HQ2 should help put the company on more stable ground.

“Being closer to Amazon will be an opportunity for us to grow our company by solidifying our place as Amazon’s top brand partner and attract new talent by being one of the first companies on the ground of this growing tech hub,” he said.

Photos via Amify/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

There is no actual karate on the grounds of Coding Dojo, but the program does hope to help coders learn to chop through digital obstacles.

Coding Dojo is a boot camp for teaching coding with locations set up across the country. Bobby Bethea, Program Success Manager for Coding Dojo, said its new D.C. area location at Eastern Foundry coworking space (1100 Wilson Blvd) in Rosslyn is a relocation of an original location in Tysons.

“Arlington has always been on our radar,” Bethea said. “The idea to relocate the campus to Arlington was determined after a former student, now a staff member, developed an API which pulled the zip codes from existing applications submitted to Coding Dojo. Once pulled, the zip codes were organized to display a heat map.”

Bethea said the heat map showed that most of the applications were coming from Arlington, so when the lease expired, the school moved closer to the students.

Bethea also said the announcement of Amazon’s move to Arlington also played a role in the move; opening up a new market for Coding Dojo alumni.

“It did factor into our decision to move to Arlington because at the end of the day, our ability to help graduates find jobs is the most important aspect of our business,” Bethea said.

The Arlington location, like the others, teaches Python, MEAN, and C#/.NET. Bethea said the program is designed to be beginner-friendly and to fit with developers of various experience levels.

The 14-week program costs $13,495, though the company offers various payment plans, financing, and scholarships.

“Our dynamic curriculum was first developed in 2008 as an internal training program for small software engineering teams — the first in the industry,” Bethea said. “Ever since, we’ve constantly refined the curriculum and have trained thousands of students to either become developers or refine their skill sets. Today, we provide students with a veteran curriculum, that is proven to work as the most effective approach to training both experienced developers and students new to coding.”

Photo via Facebook/Coding Dojo

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